West Brom boss Slaven Bilic has cast doubt over Branislav Ivanovic featuring for the Baggies against Chelsea on Saturday.
Ivanovic completed 60 minutes in the Carabao Cup defeat against Brentford on Tuesday, although Bilic admitted the Premier League game could arrive “too soon” for the Serbian.
The 36-year-old won three Premier League titles with the Blues and would have most likely have been the perfect game for him to introduce himself at the Hawthorns.
Bilic did admit that Ivanovic isn’t far off full fitness, but still has work to do with the Chelsea game fast approaching on Saturday.
“He didn’t play for a long time, on one hand, and he’s lacking a few games,” he told Birmingham Live.
“He played one game against Brentford, 60 minutes, looked good. Still he’s a bit short of match practice, but he can only get them from matches.
“I’m still not sure about the Chelsea game. Maybe it’s coming a bit too soon for him, but he’s not that far from being fit.
“He’s got experience, he’s got quality, he’s that kind of a guy, with a physique that doesn’t need a lot of training or games to get to top form. We’re going to see, but it’ll be very soon that he plays for us as a regular.”
With one defender potentially missing, another should be coming back, with Ahmed Hegazi expected to return for the game on Saturday.
The Egyptian predictably has little chance of coming straight back into the side, and we could see an unchanged partnership in the heart of defence.
One change that is guaranteed from the Everton game is Conor Townsend coming in for the suspended Kieran Gibbs – a massive test for the 27-year-old.
Although Ivanovic looked great against Brentford, we expect the usual back three of Dara O’Shea, Kyle Bartley and Semi Ajayi at the Hawthorns.
In other West Brom news, Michael Owen predicts Baggies clash against Chelsea